Algerians call Bouteflika to resign despite electoral delay

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AFP

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Algerian protesters carry banners in Arabic "no alternative but departure"

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Algeria's capital for the fourth consecutive Friday to demand the immediate resignation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

On Monday, the president postponed the presidential election on April 18 and lowered his bid for a fifth term.

Protesters, however, accuse the 82-year-old leader of illegally prolonging his sentence.

The students cited the protests against Bouteflika.

The injured octogenarian seldom appears in public and has not given a public address since his stroke in 2013. He came to the country earlier this week after being admitted to a hospital in Switzerland.

Half of the Algerian population is under 30, and youth unemployment has sparked anger against the government.

The appointment of new Prime Minister Noueddine Bedoui and the plans to form an inclusive government did not reassure the demonstrators.

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media labelingAlgeria's protests: What is behind it?

They rejected Mr. Bedoui's plan to form a technocratic government that would include young Algerians.

Speaking at his first press conference on Thursday, he said the new government would only be responsible for a short time, and he called on the opposition to engage in a positive dialogue.

However, activists have said that they are currently unwilling to compromise or bargain.

President Bouteflika's announcement on Monday that he would abandon his plan to hold elections to extend his 20-year reign was initially greeted by a celebration, but activists now see it as a trick on the National Liberation Front to hold on to power ,

The demonstrators on Friday gathered at the landmark Grand Poste in Algiers and also sang French President Emmanuel Macron, who called for a sensible transition.

"Macron, go away," they sang, raising banners with the same slogan.

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EPA

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The demonstrations were led by young Algerians who said the government was out of contact

Talks were held to discuss the political future of Algeria, led by the experienced UN diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi.

A conference for which no fixed date has yet been set is set to oversee the country's political transition, draft a new constitution and set the date for the elections.

Mr Brahimi, Special Envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League for Syria until 14 May 2014, met with the President on Monday and said it was necessary "to transform this crisis into a constructive process".

The Algerian military is expected to play an important role in the transition and is currently examining candidates for the presidency, Reuters reports.

Representatives of the conference included protesters and participants in Algerian independence wars between 1954 and 1962.